Hurricanes and tornadoes are both natural disasters that require preparation. With almost 1,200 tornadoes in the U.S. last year, as reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and with hurricane numbers expecting to be average or even somewhat greater (Insurance Industry News), it’s important to know what to do if one is in your area. While you can’t control the weather, you can take steps to help prepare your family and home for tornado and hurricane seasons. Here are some tips on what to do.
Prepare Your Home
Atlantic hurricane seasons run from June until the end of November (Insurance Industry News). Additionally, peak tornado season in the U.S. is March through May in the southern states, and late spring through early summer in the northern states, according to Ready.gov. However, you shouldn’t wait for tornado or hurricane seasons to make your home secure. The American Red Cross suggests hiring a professional to help reinforce masonry walls that provide support to your home, secure your chimney and to connect your manufactured home permanently to it’s foundation. If you have time before a hurricane or tornado approaches, the Red Cross also suggests moving or securing lawn furniture and other items that may become a projectile during a storm.
Plan a Family Drill
Practicing where to go in the event of a storm keeps everyone in your household safe in a real emergency. For example, if your home has a basement, you should seek shelter there. If you don’t have access to a basement, then you still have a few options, such as the lowest floor, under stairwells, an interior hallway, or a small center room, like a bathroom or closet (NOAA). It’s always important to avoid windows and to use sturdy protection as cover, with the NOAA suggesting a mattress or sleeping bag. Stay Safe on the Road
Stay Safe on the Road
If pulling over and getting inside a sturdy building to seek shelter isn’t possible, the National Weather Service advises staying in the car with your seat belt on and keeping your head down and covered with your hands and a blanket, if you have one stashed in your car. Also, you should avoid seeking shelter under a bridge or overpass, according to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness. The weather service and Red Cross advise that while you can exit your vehicle and head to a ditch, you may still encounter flying debris — including your car. Both organizations also advise changing your plans if you know that severe weather is approaching. Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning
Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning
Knowing the difference between a watch and a warning is part of being prepared. A watch means that a storm is possible in the area, notes the weather service. In a warning, a storm is expected or occurring, for example, a tornado sighting (NOAA). It’s also a time for action, as you should move to a safe area, says the weather service.
Pack an Emergency Kit
If a tornado or hurricane touches down in your area, it might be a few days before you have electricity and clean running water in your home. To get through those days, Ready.gov recommends an all-purpose emergency kit that includes enough water (at least one gallon per person in your household per day) and food for at least three days, a battery-powered or hand crank radio, extra batteries and a map so you can stay up to date on storm movements.
To stay prepared, contact my Allstate office for a Disaster Kit, which will include supplies like a flashlight, collapsible water bottle, rain slickers, hand sanitizer and dust respirator. (while supplies last)
Protecting your Home
It’s important to have your home and cars insured because you never know when a catastrophe might occur. Also, contact your property insurer after a storm to assess any potential damage to your property.
By taking a few steps to help practice what to do during severe weather, packing an emergency kit and insuring your property, your family
By Sereda Y. Fowlkes, Principal, Fowlkes Insurance Services Inc.
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